Still renting your phone? Why?
Phone companies do disclose leasing fees. According
to the Better Business Bureau, some phone bills show a charge for
"leased equipment" while other telephone lease companies
send separate bills for lease charges.
"Anybody who has ever reviewed a phone bill
knows how difficult those can be to read," Baker says. "And many times,
they collect the charge over a three-month period. So you may not see it on every
Baker believes AT&T and other phone companies
should identify their customers who've been leasing phones and tell
them, "it's probably not in their best interest. They should
make a better effort to help those people out."
However, Baker concedes there's a small
percentage that may still want to rent landline phones. For example, those who
only plan to live at a residence for a short period, he says, may appreciate leasing
AT&T will continue to provide lease options
as long as customers perceive value in the program, Muldoon says.
Chuck White, senior vice president of TNS Telecoms, a telecommunications market
research company, doesn't think the demand will be for much longer. He says less
than 1 percent of phone users rent.
"We don't see enough
(phone leasing) anymore to be able to get a hard number," White says. "I
can't imagine the revenue potential here is high enough that the phone company
is quietly collecting millions of dollars when it comes to these phones."
White believes those who continue to lease phones are "laggers"
in adapting to technology.
"When the (business) model
changes, there's always going to be some people who just stick with what they
had and don't know better to change it in some cases," he says.
according to AT&T, some people just prefer renting phones. Muldoon says three-quarters
of surveyed customers say they own a purchased telephone in addition to the leased
equipment. He says customers said they keep at least one leased phone for its
quality, dependability and convenience.
Baker sees it differently.
"Some people like the old rotary dial phone.
And they think they'll lose that. They say, 'Oh I'm happy with my
phone, I'm happy with the way things are.' But they don't realize
that's costing them a whole lot more than they need to pay."